As you’ve heard me say many times, orthodontists are a smart and accomplished bunch. Many speak multiple languages, play several instruments, have excelled at elite-level sports or have achieved exceptional accomplishments such as Eagle Scout. So why is it that so many of these previously well-coached individuals rarely use consultants. I’m not talking about going to meetings, spending time learning from others on Facebook or going to courses. I’m specifically referring to consultants.

I LOVE people who ask for help and are vulnerable enough to recognize their are those out there who know more than them AND are willing to invest in the knowledge they can obtain. The next time you go to a course or listen to a speaker, ask them who their favorite consultants are. You’ll instantly find those who reinvest in themselves versus those who don’t.

When I sit around and chat with my closest professional peers, we often compare notes about the consultants who have helped us with our practices. Moreover, the practices from whom I’ve learned the most while visiting are those who repeatedly have sought out consultants to make their practices stronger.  It’s funny, really. In my 50’s I’ve accidentally found out that those with whom I’m closest are those who have hired consultants and those who use their garage for cars, not storage. Funny how that works out. But why do some choose to never ante-up the money to hire a practice expert?

Over the years, I’ve heard all sorts of comments about consultants. “They charge so much and it’s so not worth it.” “What do they know that I can’t learn without them?” “Most are people who couldn’t hack it in practice.” “I can’t afford to hire them.” And my personal favorite: “I’ve been successful without them. Why do I need them now?”

I won’t address all of the comments mentioned above, but the final two are ones I’ve heard over and over again and they are perplexing to me.

I understand that you feel you can’t afford one. If you’re just starting out in practice, there are so many other costs before hiring a consultant. I’ve always been a proponent of looking at the 100 cents in every dollar knowing that every penny spent somewhere means one less penny to bring home. Avoiding wasteful spending is the key to reducing stress and a better income. I get it. But what if spending 1 dollar on a consultant considerably reduced your stress, or brought you back $1.50? If that were true, it would be a mistake to not do it, right?

If you’re not new to practice but feel that you can’t afford it, all the more reason to look in the mirror and bring an expert into your practice. It’s rare to find a well-run, mature orthodontic practice that isn’t somewhat profitable. If yours isn’t, you should definitely consider bringing someone in to help you manage the practice in a better fashion.

What about those who feel they know enough and have done well enough that a consultant isn’t necessary? I apologize, but I cannot relate to that. I’ve been a huge believer that we often need someone to look from the outside and shine a light on the practice so we can better understand where we can get better. I know orthodontists who are amazing communicators, who have a knack for creating policies and systems, who can manage overhead and are masters of the scheduling template, who are remarkable teachers and can show a team how to effectively answer the phone, or train  a TC for better case acceptance. But I’ve never met an orthodontist who is all of the above. And no matter how great your practice is, no matter how low your stress, it can always get better.

So, how do you figure out which consultant you should hire? There are lots of options out there.

First, figure out what you need. If you have more new patients than you can handle, a marketing consultant probably isn’t the wisest hire and if your schedule runs like clockwork, a scheduling consultant probably isn’t a necessary move. However, if you sit down and objectively view what you want from your practice but aren’t currently getting, you’ll figure out what you need, and best of all, there’s a consultant out there who can help you.

And don’t forget to do your due diligence. Just because you saw an ad about someone or heard their name mentioned on Facebook doesn’t qualify them to help you. Contact the consultant and ask them a ton of questions. Dig deep and follow-up references. Sometimes, it will be a good fit and sometimes it won’t. If you get a chance to see a consultant speak at a meeting, take notes and learn more about whether or not they can help you. Nobody can do the due diligence but you. It’s a relationship and you need to put in the time.

I do my best to maximize the former and minimize the latter, but in 27 years in practice, the value I’ve received from consultants has far outperformed the investment. In my practice career, I reckon I’ve spent over $500,000 on consultants/coaches and just last year alone, we probably spent about $75,000. It was worth every penny. Sure, hiring a consultant brings a lot of stress because of the culture of change that comes along with it and you can pick the pace at which you hire. I’ve brought in coaches who were amazing for my office and I’ve tried some duds.

Just remember that the best in any field generally got there with help from others. In our world of orthodontics, nobody is more accessible with niche information than consultants. Consider where in your professional life you can get better, do your research and make 2020 the year you take your practice to the next level.

Wishing you the best,

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GLENN KRIEGER IS AN ORTHODONTIST WITH 20 YEARS OF RESTORATIVE AND COSMETIC DENTISTRY EXPERIENCE BEFORE HE RETURNED TO ORTHODONTIC RESIDENCY. DR. KRIEGER LEARNED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-DESIGNED PRACTICE POLICIES AND SYSTEMS DURING A YEAR AT THE SCHUSTER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTSDALE ARIZONA, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRACTICES AND INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON GRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOL’S “DENTIST AS CEO” PROGRAM. HE IS THE HOST OF “THE ORTHOPRENEURS PODCAST”, MANAGES THE ORTHOPRENEURS FACEBOOK GROUP AND RUNS THE ANNUAL ORTHOPRENEURS SUMMIT.

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